New details emerge in DUI crash

Ally Mutnick and Rebecca Savransky

Drowning has been ruled the official cause of death for McCormick senior Mihirtej Boddupalli, who was one of two passengers in a July drunk driving accident that left the car they were riding in at the bottom of a 40-feet-deep lake. Coroner’s reports show both passengers were intoxicated at the time of their deaths.

The DuPage County Coroner’s Office autopsy and toxicology reports, accessed this week by The Daily, determined the final cause of death for both passengers as drowning by entrapment in a car.

The accident occurred early July 19 when McCormick senior Michael Szot, who had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of 0.08, drove the car down a steep wooded area before it landed upside down in a water-filled quarry in Naperville, Illinois, according to the coroner’s investigative report.

The car sunk to the bottom of the lake. Boddupalli and Indiana University student Sajaad Syed were both found inside the vehicle, according to the report. They were later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Szot, who pleaded not guilty to nine counts of aggravated driving under the influence last month, was able to escape through a driver’s side window while the car was sinking, according to documents filed by the prosecution in a DuPage County court.

Prosecutors reported Szot had a BAC of 0.14 shortly after the crash and admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the night.

Boddupalli had a BAC of 0.162 and Syed of 0.102 and neither tested positive for marijuana, according to the coroner’s toxicology report.

When initially questioned after the crash, Szot denied driving the car, telling police he had “given his keys to irresponsible friends,” according to court documents, but he later admitted he was the driver.

Earlier in the night, Szot picked up his two friends and drove to a party where he smoked marijuana, according to the court files. The three then arrived at Features Bar in Naperville between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., according to the files, and left at about 1:30 a.m. Szot later admitted to drinking between “8-9 beers and shots of rum throughout the night,” according to court documents.

The accident occurred at about 2 a.m. while the car was traveling at a high speed down Aurora Avenue. An eyewitness described Szot’s 2007 Chevrolet Impala as a “white streak” passing in front of her vehicle, according to the court files.

After escaping the car, Szot did not make any effort to help the two passengers escape, according to the files. Szot and another witness reported at least one passenger was conscious at the time of the crash, according to the documents.

Szot is currently free on $250,000 bond and has a status hearing on Oct. 2.

In response to several alcohol-related incidents in Naperville including the fatal crash, Naperville officials discussed implementing additional regulations for bars in the area.

Potential ordinances included not allowing people into a bar an hour before closing, stopping the sale of shots earlier in the night and reducing the maximum single serving of alcoholic beverages.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @allymutnick

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @beccasavransky

Previous stories on this topic:

    Szot not enrolled at Northwestern this fall, University says
    Michael Szot pleads not guilty to accident-related charges
    Rising senior Michael Szot released from jail on bond after suspected DUI crash
    Mihirtej Boddupalli remembered by community for kindness, humor
    Preliminary report: Rising McCormick senior Mihirtej Boddupalli died from drowning